The objective of this guide is to show how to check what version of Kali Linux a system is running. This includes information such as the version number and what CPU architecture the system uses (i.e. 32 or 64 bit).

Kali is a rolling release, meaning that there are no full system upgrades. Rather, users just need to update all the packages on their system in order to upgrade to the latest version of Kali. With this in mind, it's not as much of a concern to know if your system has fallen out of date or not, as updating it can be done entirely with apt package manager. We'll show you how below.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to check Kali Linux version
lsb_release command that shows what version of Kali is installed
lsb_release command that shows what version of Kali is installed
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Kali Linux
Software N/A
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Check Kali Version

We'll be showing a few different commands that can be used to check the version of your system. Some of them reveal different information than others, but there's also a lot of overlap between most of them. Pick whichever ones are most applicable for your situation.

  1. The lsb_release -a command shows the release version, description, and operating system codename. This is the simplest way to quickly find what version of Kali you're running. In our example below, we're on 2020.4.
    $ lsb_release -a
    No LSB modules are available.
    Distributor ID: Kali
    Description:    Kali GNU/Linux Rolling
    Release:        2020.4
    Codename:       kali-rolling
    
  2. lsb_release -a command
    lsb_release -a command
  3. The /etc/os-release file contains various information, including OS version.
    $ cat /etc/os-release 
    PRETTY_NAME="Kali GNU/Linux Rolling"
    NAME="Kali GNU/Linux"
    ID=kali
    VERSION="2020.4"
    VERSION_ID="2020.4"
    VERSION_CODENAME="kali-rolling"
    ID_LIKE=debian
    ANSI_COLOR="1;31"
    HOME_URL="https://www.kali.org/"
    SUPPORT_URL="https://forums.kali.org/"
    BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.kali.org/"
    

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    os-release file
    os-release file
  5. The hostnamectl command shows us the kernel version and CPU architecture.
    $ hostnamectl
       Static hostname: linuxconfig
             Icon name: computer-vm
               Chassis: vm
            Machine ID: e31601172a1b411a92cc7dd738d65605
               Boot ID: 79fb33f634044935a4a14c09be8c4f51
        Virtualization: oracle
      Operating System: Kali GNU/Linux Rolling
                Kernel: Linux 5.9.0-kali5-amd64
          Architecture: x86-64
    
  6. hostnamectl command
    hostnamectl command
  7. The /proc/version file contains build information for the OS.
    $ cat /proc/version
    Linux version 5.9.0-kali5-amd64 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) (gcc-10 (Debian 10.2.1-1) 10.2.1 20201207, GNU ld (GNU Binutils for Debian) 2.35.1) #1 SMP Debian 5.9.15-1kali1 (2020-12-18)
    
  8. The /proc/version file
    The /proc/version file

If you want to upgrade Kali to the latest version, you can run the commands below. For further explanation, check out our guide on updating Kali Linux.

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt full-upgrade

Closing Thoughts

In this guide, we saw how to check what version of Kali Linux is installed on a system. The lsb_release -a or lsb_release -r commands end up being the simplest ways to get this information, although we also covered more commands that reveal helpful information about the system, such as kernel version and CPU architecture.

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